Eugene placed high importance on the period of novitiate formation of the young Oblates –it was an opportunity to make space for God and to learn and imbibe the values of Oblate religious life. The spirit of a “novitiate” period is not only for future Oblates. All who are serious about wanting to grow spiritually need to make space so as to focus on God’s presence and work in their lives.
Beginning at the end of the school year, that is to say by the month of July, there will be no more studies at the novitiate. Study can scarcely be associated with deep recollection and with the heavenly and supernatural thoughts on which the novices ought to dwell continually. Our experience has been that study absorbs too considerable a part of the time of which there is hardly enough for the task of acquiring so many virtues and for imbuing oneself with the spirit of the Society. Study at such a time is, so to speak, a hole through which runs out some of the substance one is pouring into the mould.
Letter to Jean Baptiste Honorat, 4 May 1828, EO VII n 299
Today in our Rule of Life we read:
“The novice, led by the Spirit living within him, develops his personal relationship with Jesus and gradually enters into the mystery of Salvation through liturgy and prayer. He becomes accustomed to listen to the Lord in Scripture, to meet him in the Eucharist and to recognize him in other persons and in events. He comes also to contemplate God at work in the life and mission of the Founder, as well as in the Congregation’s history and traditions. Opportunities for pastoral experience in an Oblate setting help him realize the demands of a missionary vocation and the unity of apostolic religious life.” CC&RR Constitution 56
“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every person which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” Blaise Pascal